This is a day where nearly every team that isn’t in the playoffs is sending out mass e-mails, thanking their fans and talking about their grand plans to build a winning ballclub. There’s usually nothing newsworthy in any of them, but I wasn’t the only one who found a portion of this e-mail from Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and general manager Jack Zduriencik rather interesting.
Courtesy of Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, see if you can spot who is missing in part of Zduriencik’s message.
We’ve got a flock of top-rated prospects on their way to the big club.
These include position players Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Carlos
Peguero, Nick Franklin, Kyle Seager, Johermyn Chavez, Greg Halman and
Matt Mangini, along with hard-throwing pitchers like Michael Pineda,
Blake Beavan, Dan Cortes, Mauricio Robles, Maikel Cleto and Anthony
Varvaro. Many of our best prospects are headed for winter ball and the
fall instructional league – they’re driven to improve and play at the
That’s right, no mention of Josh Lueke. For the uninitiated, the Mariners insisted they knew nothing about the pitcher’s criminal past when he was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade, though former pitching coach Rick Adair says otherwise.
I’m probably not out of line to say that any organization that trades a player like Cliff Lee would probably attempt to hype up their newest acquisitions by default, but it’s fairly obvious they are trying to avoid any and all controversy here. For what’s it’s worth, Stone is fairly certain that the omission is “not inadvertent,” and goes as far to wonder whether Lueke is actually in the organization’s long-term plans.
Granted, maybe Lueke doesn’t fit the definition of a “top prospect” by virtue of being a reliever, but he did post a 1.86 ERA and 94/14 K/BB ratio over 63 innings between the Rangers and Mariners organizations this season. Some have even mentioned him as a future closer. The 25-year-old right-hander pitched 12 games with Triple-A Tacoma to end the season, so they’ll have to make up their minds pretty soon.
Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.
Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:
Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.
He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.